Alright y’all, this is the first of a collection of posts strictly about the generic college essay.
In this post, I’mma be explaining what an essay should look like, and general rules that should earn you some points for organization!
So first, let’s talk about essays. Usually, when you’ve been assigned an essay, your professor/teacher gives you three things. A deadline, a page/word count, and a prompt.
The deadline and page/word count are kind of related, they’re both there as requirements. In other words, if your deadline is Monday, the 7th, you shouldn’t be giving your essay in on Monday, the 14th. Usually, in college, if you give prior notice, your professor will allow an extension. DON’T ABUSE IT.
Okay, so page/word count. Generally speaking, if you’re using MLA style (which you SHOULD be, if you’re writing for an English class, let’s not get started on APA because that shit confuses me) 250 words = 1 page. Okay, so now you should have an idea of how many pages you need. But lemme break that down even further.
Most professors tend to stick to 4-8 page essays. So, if you’ve been assigned 4 pages OR 1000 words, you should be planning to write about…6 paragraphs, including your introduction and conclusion. But, as a general rule of thumb, make sure each paragraph only has one main idea. What I mean by that is, write your essay as if you were writing a list, or a recipe. Each ingredient gets its own line, so each main idea should get its own paragraph. Make sense?
And to break it down even further, the general rule for paragraphs is 5-8 sentences. Any less than that and you’re wasting your professor’s time OR they’ll think you’re half assing it. **DON’T USE QUOTES THAT ARE SUPER LONG IF YOU’RE NOT WRITING A SUPER LONG PAPER. REPEAT, DON’T USE LONG QUOTES**
Ahh, we’ve finally reached the prompt! So basically, this is the first thing you have to really think about since you received the assignment. Make sure you really read the prompt! Sometimes, academic language can be tricky to understand. Break down the prompt and write it in your own words, if you have to! And again, your professors are there for you to ask questions! Make use of their office hours and talk/email them with your interpretation of their prompt to make sure you understood it! Doing this shows them that a) you aren’t a slacker and you’re already thinking about their assignment and b) you want to put the extra effort in (this might result in you getting a +B instead of a B!)
Okay, so now you’ve gotten the prompt figured out…but you don’t know what to write about! Well, some here’s some general advice I can give you.
- Think about your professor’s style. Are they into feminism? History? Try to shape your essay using the critical/literary lens that you think they would enjoy reading the most.
- Incorporate stuff that YOU like (if you can and it is applicable to the prompt.) A lot of professors like to read about things they have never heard about.
- If you can’t apply either of these things, just try your best my dudes. Trust me, I’ve had to write essays about stuff I didn’t like either. One time, I had to write eight pages about WATER! Yeah. Ugh.
Annnnd! That about sums up general knowledge for essays.